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Update on municipal main building solar project

The municipal solar project which entails the installation of a 300 kilo-Watt Peak grid tied PV generating plant at the officials parking area is progressing well and nearly completed.
The construction of the steel support structures which will serve as carports as well, has been completed and  the pv panels are currently being laid on the newly built structures. In total, 692 PV panels will be installed, with each panel rated at 435 Watts, making the system size equal to 692*435 = 301 kiloWatts peak. All of the inverters which will convert DC power from the panels into AC electricity, have been installed in a closed compartment room.

Thabo Yiga, Intern, Candidate Engineer for Electrotechnical Services, who is responsible for the project, was pleased to advise that a weather monitoring station will also be installed. This station is equipped with sensors to measure parameters such as solar irradiation, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, pv panels temperature, and so on. The  site specific measured data collected will be used to calculate the Performance Ratio (PR) of the pv plant on an annual basis to determine plant performance.

The project includes an upgrade with vehicle parking lines to be painted for the carport structures, as well as the installation of LED solar lights to provide additional lighting at night.  The project is expected to end 20th July and commissioning tests will begin on the last week of July. The plant will be energized by August.

Background information: The PV plant will reduce the peak load demand of the main building and reduce the amount of electricity purchased from Eskom. The plant will also enable the building to meet carbon emission reduction targets by powering most of the required load with energy generated from a clean and renewable source. The total savings in carbon dioxide emissions, would be in the region of 9027 tonnes of CO2 over the plants 25 year lifetime. 500 000 kilo Watt Hours (kWh) of energy is expected to be produced by the PV plant annually, and the system is projected to pay itself off within 7 years of the 25 year estimated lifetime.

The 500 000 kilowatt-hour of electricity that the PV plant will generate annually is the equivalent of the power consumption of 55 households using 25 kwh of electricity per day (or approximately 9000 kwh pa).  The project is funded by the Department of Energy under the Energy Efficiency Demand Side Management (EEDSM) programme. The current public parking area located immediately in front of the municipal building will not be affected during the construction at all.